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CEA Opposes Proposal To Mandate FM in Portables

8/16/2010 03:27:34 PM Eastern

Arlington, Va. - The Consumer Electronics
Association (CEA) is opposing discussions by the broadcast and music industries
to tie an agreement over radio station royalties to a mandate that all portable
electronics incorporate an FM radio tuner.

"The
backroom scheme of the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) and RIAA (Recording
Industry Association of America) to have Congress mandate broadcast radios in
portable devices, including mobile phones, is the height of absurdity," said
CEA president/CEO Gary Shapiro.

"Forced
inclusion of an additional antenna, processor and radio receiver will
compromise features that consumers truly desire, such as long battery life and
light weight," he contended. "Reducing product performance, mandating inclusion
of features consumers don't want, and replacing product innovation by companies
like Amazon, Apple, Motorola and HP-Palm with government design mandates are
not in our national interest."

Calling the mandate "onerous and
backward-looking," Shapiro said "rather than adapt to the digital marketplace,
NAB and RIAA act like buggy-whip industries that refuse to innovate and seek to
impose penalties on those that do."

The
discussion arose as part of Congressional deliberations backed by the music
industry to require terrestrial AM and FM broadcasters to start paying
royalties to artists and music companies for the songs they broadcast. By law,
radio broadcasters have had to pay royalties only to songwriters, but new
broadcast media such as satellite radio and webcasters pay royalties to songwriters,
artists and music companies.

As
part of negotiations to reach an agreement over the royalty proposal, the NAB
and RIAA have discussed limiting the additional amount of royalties to be paid
while giving the music industry more potential access to more listeners through
portable devices.

The
NAB said no deal has been finalized but said the mandate would enhance public
safety in emergencies. Dennis Wharton, NAB's EVP for communications, told TWICE that "from a public safety perspective, it is critically important to have broadcast radio's unparalleled lifeline service available instantaneously in times of emergency. For that reason, NAB would oppose any legislation related to royalties that did not include that feature."

 

A
bill
without the mandate has already been approved by committees in the House and
Senate.

Select
cellphones already come with included FM radio, as does the ZuneHD MP3/video
player with embedded FM HD Radio.